Last night in the US we had the Superbowl. One team ended up being a winner and one a loser. We’ve done a reflection on winning vs. losing before, so today I thought we’d talk about a related topic: disappointment. Just like winning and losing disappointment usually has two sides and what is seen as a disappointment by one is often not seen as such by another. Just take a look at all the reviews posted online about different books, shows, movies and even businesses. Some people absolutely love something and other people are really let down by the experience they had.
Disappointment isn’t limited to winning and losing though, it’s something that applies to many areas of our lives, from our relationships to our families to our careers to the articles and books we read and show and movies we watch. There are also shades to disappointment, it’s not black and white like winning and losing almost always is. I might have no real opinion of a movie, you might be mildly let down by how that movie turned out, while someone else might go home and post nasty comments on every review site and board they can find and feel forever ruined by that movie.
But like winning and losing, when you experience disappointment there’s always a next step: what will you do about that? Sometimes we just chalk it up as an experience and move on. Other times it really motivates and inspires us to do something about it and make changes in that aspect of our lives. And sometimes we’re so crushed by the disappointment that it shakes our very foundation and we make radical decisions and changes as a result.
If it’s someone or something else that has disappointed you that you don’t have a ton of control over, like the election or a leader or a movie or a sports game, in some situations you look for ways you can continue to support that person/group/thing even though you weren’t thrilled with the latest happenings or something you learned (die hard sports fans don’t give up on their team just because they lost the big/final game of the season). It’s not wrong to let them know that you’re disappointed, but in this case you’d include a bit of encouragement with the message as well. In other situations it’s hard to see beyond the disappointment, especially if you feel personally betrayed or hurt. In these cases it benefits you to take time to really think things over and not give an immediate reaction. After serious reflection time, and maybe talking things through with some impartial parties (without alcohol involved), then make a decision on next steps.
But before you choose to cut all ties, I encourage you to think about the last time you screwed up and disappointed someone (and don’t say it hasn’t happened, because I know we’ve all done something at sometime). Think about whether you were hoping for some forgiveness or leniency in your situation and how the other person/people reacted. Think about how it felt to be the cause of disappointment. And think long and hard about never having this person or thing in your life again. If you can truly then answer that you’re OK letting go, take some baby steps backwards and away from the situation or person and let go.
I don’t believe disappointment has to be the end of what had been something great. It may be a bump in the road or a detour in the journey, but if you really believe in something or someone, don’t let a disappointment stop you.